What is a LinkedIn “IDK/I Don’t Know”? And Why Should I Care?

What-is-a-LinkedIn-IDK-I-Dont-Know-And-Why-Should-I-Care-V1

When you invite someone or receive an invite, the recepient has a choice of accepting the invite, saying they don’t know the invite, reporting spam, or simply archiving the invite without performing any action.  If the invite is accepted, the two of you become immediately connected.  If the invite is archived, you can always accept the invitation at a later date.  If you report spam, well, I am sure that the invitee will not be permitted to use LinkedIn for long.

IDK = I Don’t Know This Person

The “I Don’t Know This Person” (hereafter referred to as “IDK” for short) response, while seeming to be an innocent way of letting the invitee know that you only want to accept known people in your network, and because you don’t know them you’d rather not have them in your network.  However, the problem is that LinkedIn looks down on these responses as they created their social networking platform for professionals to connect people who know each other but lost touch, not for open networkers.  Therefore, if you receive 5 cumulative IDKs you will need to enter an E-Mail address for every invite you send.  This means that if you find an old colleague and want to connect but don’t know their most recent E-Mail address, you will be unable to connect.

I personally have never responded with an IDK, but I have received my share of them, even from self-professed LinkedIn LIONs and members of LinkedIn groups for open networkers.  I believe it is a unwritten but understood rule that LIONs should never respond with an IDK but merely archive any invite they do not want to connect with.  You never know when you may want to connect with that contact if you move to a new place or a new industry, so why not just archive it and keep the potential for connecting open?  Couldn’t hurt.

As for people who are not open networkers, as I mentioned in my How to Grow Your LinkedIn Network post, you invite them at your own risk.  If you do not want to receive invites, I highly recommend that you state so in your profile and/or contact details.  If you do not state so, you can assume that you will receive invites.  But even if you receive them, please do not punish the sender but merely archive them if you do not want to connect.

Peace to all.

Neal Schaffer
The Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Maximize Social Business, Neal Schaffer is a leader in helping businesses and professionals strategically maximize their use of social media. Neal is the author of three social media books, including the recently published definitive social media strategy book Maximize Your Social. Forbes lists him as a Top 35 Social Media Power Influencer and AdAge lists his blog, Maximize Social Business (formerly known as Windmill Networking), as a top 100 global marketing blog. Neal provides social media strategy consulting and coaching, having worked with Fortune 500 companies and a Grammy-award winning musician. He has presented worldwide on social media at more than 150 events and also teaches social media marketing at Rutgers University. +Neal Schaffer
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Comments

  1. says

    I will submit, for your consideration, that if you’re just getting into this open networking arena, that you think twice about putting a little wussy statement at the bottom of your invitation, such as “please don’t IDK me, don’t diss me, don’t get me in trouble with LinkedIn, etc.”

    Would you put on your own résumé, “may not play well with others” or “I love mankind, it’s people that suck” ???!!!

    This is like a cold sales call, people, and with some of your targets, you may only have one shot to make a favorable impression. Don’t waste your maximum allotted characters for your sales pitch, your request to connect, with garbage like PLEASE DON’T IDK. That’s so amateur, so self-defeating and so like what a “script kiddie” does, who doesn’t have the chops, who doesn’t know his programming or networking stuff. Send that boilerplate, that canned “professionally written” introduction from wherever you swiped it, to File 13, to your mental Trashcan, and leave it there.

    [Descending from soapbox now….]

  2. says

    I will submit, for your consideration, that if you’re just getting into this open networking arena, that you think twice about putting a little wussy statement at the bottom of your invitation, such as “please don’t IDK me, don’t diss me, don’t get me in trouble with LinkedIn, etc.”

    Would you put on your own résumé, “may not play well with others” or “I love mankind, it’s people that suck” ???!!!

    This is like a cold sales call, people, and with some of your targets, you may only have one shot to make a favorable impression. Don’t waste your maximum allotted characters for your sales pitch, your request to connect, with garbage like PLEASE DON’T IDK. That’s so amateur, so self-defeating and so like what a “script kiddie” does, who doesn’t have the chops, who doesn’t know his programming or networking stuff. Send that boilerplate, that canned “professionally written” introduction from wherever you swiped it, to File 13, to your mental Trashcan, and leave it there.

    [Descending from soapbox now….]

  3. pantherjad says

    The problem is the language of the buttons, they need the following:

    “Accept”
    “Do not accept”
    “Unsolicited spam”

    I think most people will recognize the hard language of “unsolicited spam” and if you attempt to connect with them through some thin commonalities, they would merely not accept your invite. This is far better language as I think “archive” comes with the concept of taking up space or creating clutter and no one wants to do that.

  4. says

    I agree that there is a problem in the nomenclature. I don't understand why LinkedIn just isn't more transparent and make it easy to accept, archive, block user, or report user for spam. Done!

  5. pantherjad says

    The problem is the language of the buttons, they need the following:

    “Accept”
    “Do not accept”
    “Unsolicited spam”

    I think most people will recognize the hard language of “unsolicited spam” and if you attempt to connect with them through some thin commonalities, they would merely not accept your invite. This is far better language as I think “archive” comes with the concept of taking up space or creating clutter and no one wants to do that.

  6. says

    I agree that there is a problem in the nomenclature. I don't understand why LinkedIn just isn't more transparent and make it easy to accept, archive, block user, or report user for spam. Done!

  7. Jonathan says

    The limit of five IDKs before getting restricted has circulated on many websites including from well respected bloggers such as Stacy Zapar. But this appears to be a myth (or at least, it no longer is the case in 2014) Don’t get me wrong, getting too many IDK will get you restricted. But it takes a lot more than five for this to happen. I remember even reading one comment from a LinkedIn moderator in their forum saying that there was no such thing as being restricted after only five IDK.

    I’ve joined LinkedIn last year. Like many newbies, I have been restricted. But it took me well over 50 IDK (or spam) before I was requested to plug an email address on further invitations. I don’t know exactly what is Linkedin’s criteria for getting restricted. My guess is that it could either be a ratio of IDK/Spam vs Accepted/Archived, or an absolute number (like 50 for example), or a combination of the two aforementioned.

    • says

      Hey Jonathan, thanks for chiming in! Indeed, LinkedIn is always changing their platform, and considering that this post was written 6 (!) years ago, it wouldn’t surprise me if there were changes. LinkedIn has become very sophisticated with many things about their platform, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they use a number of factors in a complex algorithm before they start restricting you.

      That being said, whether it’s 5 or 50 or 100, IDKs are still something to be avoided that people need to know about, so hoping that the objective of the post is still true today.

      • Jonathan says

        Definitely agree with you Neal. Every restriction is always a potential outcome for LinkedIn to suspend your account or even close it altogether.

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